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Author Topic: Pros and Cons of the Topbar?  (Read 14340 times)
T Beek
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« Reply #60 on: March 15, 2010, 11:59:41 AM »

Simply put, we feel that working tbh made us better beeks.  We gained more "bee-knowledge" in one season working tbh than we ever did w/ langs.  Although We'll continue to use both styles we credit tbh w/ a welcome eduction provided exclusively by the bees.  Not having any close experienced beeks and Living in rural Wisconsin, 2 hours from any bee-club that "bee" supplied education made a great impact on us and the bees. cool

t/l
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« Reply #61 on: March 15, 2010, 01:24:07 PM »

Simply put, we feel that working tbh made us better beeks.  We gained more "bee-knowledge" in one season working tbh than we ever did w/ langs.  Although We'll continue to use both styles we credit tbh w/ a welcome eduction provided exclusively by the bees.  Not having any close experienced beeks and Living in rural Wisconsin, 2 hours from any bee-club that "bee" supplied education made a great impact on us and the bees. cool

t/l
This has been exactly my experience. No mentor. A kind of slow bee club. Only the Internet, books, and the e-mails of beek friends. I hard a hard time pulling myself away from the TBHs last summer (as well as my family). I don't know Langstroths well, but I can't picture a scenario where you could open up the back of a Lang and just sit and watch the bees on their combs the way my kids and I did throughout the summer. That, plus the observation windows and regular visits, taught me more about bees in 1 summer than I could have ever dreamed possible.

I know I have so, so much more to learn, but I also feel like I got to "know" them a little bit and figure out what they were doing.

BTW, it's really neat how many WI beeks there are--welcome!
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tillie
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« Reply #62 on: March 16, 2010, 12:04:04 AM »

Quote
I really appreciate that approach of yours JP because I know it becomes such a stressful issue among beeks "OH MY GOD, THEY SWARMED". I was very stressful my first couple of years when I began beekeeping, dreading the swarm season, but now I have relaxed with it all.  I will do my best and after that, well adios amigos. 

Annette,  It was very interesting to listen to Sam Comfort talk about his TBH bees at the Florida Organic Beekeepers meeting in West Palm.  Sam does not worry about swarming and sees it (as it obviously IS)  as the reproduction of the hive and essential to the survival of the bees.  He also does not feed bees, like our own Michael Bush, and Sam says that if they are strong enough to survive the winter and strong enough to put away enough stores for winter, then they are the bees that should survive, unlike the bees who don't get it right going into winter.

He was a real hands-off beekeeper but obviously loved his bees and watching him move around the bees and take bees out of his TBHs to show us was almost balletic (although in his Army fatigue cut off shorts, flip flops, old shirt and floppy hat, he looked nothing like a ballerina!).

Linda T in Atlanta
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annette
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« Reply #63 on: March 16, 2010, 09:31:18 PM »

Thanks Linda for this reply. I watched a video on Sam a couple of weeks ago (can't remember where I found it) I believe it was a U Tube video. I really enjoyed watching him and how comfortable he was with the hives.

I think the only worry I actually have with the swarming is:

(well actually 2 worries)

1.  That they will keep swarming themselves to death or at the least, become too weak to gather enough honey to make it through winter.
2.  That they will end up in one of the structures on the property where I keep them. (not my property) Then I will have to fly JP out here to do a proper cutout!!!! grin grin grin

Other than that, I feel fine about it all.

 I'm sorry stay on topic

How is the TBH coming along?? You know I am teaching the 4H club beekeeping right now (per your influence) and we are going to build a TBH soon.  So the club will start with 2 langs and 1 TBH for the kids to enjoy and learn.

Take care and love
Annette
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tillie
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« Reply #64 on: March 17, 2010, 12:03:57 AM »

My top bar hive is built and painted.  Tonight I finished gluing these wooden sticks (called Woodies at Michael's) into the slits in the top bars as starting points for the bees.  I have plastic for the top of the hive and haven't cut it to fit yet.  Now all I need is a swarm.  I'm on the swarm list for my bee club and I usually get a swarm call or two from people finding my blog when they search for an Atlanta beekeeper. 

I can't wait to experiment with this.

Linda T, channeling Sam Comfort and wishing for as much comfort with the bees.
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Natalie
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« Reply #65 on: March 17, 2010, 11:26:45 AM »

I think the first year of having a tbh is a great experience and after a while you can tweek the hive however you want, move the entrances, go longer or shorter etc.
The great thing about it is they are not expensive so you can play around with the design a little and they are pretty forgiving.
I got my 6 year old a tbh last year and it has been a great learning tool for him, he also helps me inspect the langs so he is able to see how they both operate and make any comparisons between the two.

I agree about not worrying too much about letting the bees swarm, annette maybe you could put an empty nuc or swarm trap on the property to catch them if they do swarm instead of them going into one of the structures there.
I am glad Jp stated this because I was wondering if there was something wrong with me not caring much about what the bees did in that regard. In the beginning I heard so much about avoiding the bees swarming that I started to think about what I would have to do and then I thought that I really did not want to deal with all that and maybe I was going to be interfering too much with their natural rhythm.
I enjoy beekeeping and I don't want it to become a chore, I have them for what they are and if I get honey then its great but that is not my main focus of having bees.

I don't medicate or feed my bees either, going into winter I left them their honey and hoped for the best.
They all pulled through.
Sam Comfort is a character for sure.
I have some colonies that I got from Sam last year, he obviously has some good stock, the bees were pretty mellow, productive and hearty. They have done very well for me.
I saw him at the chemical free conference in Massachusetts last year and he was in his usual beekeeping garb, shorts, shirt and flip flops. It is hard to believe that he didn't grow up around bees and that he only started beekeeping several years ago, it shows how much you can learn from them if you just pay attention to the bees and do what they tell you rather than doing everything the books or the bee club says to do.
The people at my bee club give the students a long list of things they should do every year with the bees and its overkill.
I didn't have a mentor so I was able to do figure out how I want to do things on  my own, I am not afraid to make mistakes because then I will learn from them but I would rather have them be my own mistakes than someone else's that is repeated over and over.

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annette
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« Reply #66 on: March 17, 2010, 01:35:00 PM »

Yes Nat,

Good idea about the swarm trap. I will try and do that.

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luvin honey
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« Reply #67 on: March 18, 2010, 01:29:45 PM »


I enjoy beekeeping and I don't want it to become a chore, I have them for what they are and if I get honey then its great but that is not my main focus of having bees.

I didn't have a mentor so I was able to do figure out how I want to do things on  my own, I am not afraid to make mistakes because then I will learn from them but I would rather have them be my own mistakes than someone else's that is repeated over and over.
Totally agree! I've decided to go through my hives WAY less this year. I think it will be better for the girls and not be as overwhelming for me during already-overwhelming summer season. They know what they're doing far better than I Smiley
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
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annette
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« Reply #68 on: March 18, 2010, 11:52:32 PM »

Today lifted 3 heavy supers trying to equalize the population in 2 hives. OH my gosh!!  I really hurt my back lifting the wrong way.  Wasn't paying attention to my posture.  Well I think the TBH is the only way for me to actually continue beekeeping  in the future.  I am in constant pain all summer long due to all the lifting.

I love the langs and finally figured out how to manage them, but to save my back, I may have to go all TBH next.

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luvin honey
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« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2010, 12:09:58 PM »

That is a HUGE pro, the back issues. I hope your back pain resolves, Annette. It's sure no fun at all to be dealing with that. It will be fun to hear what you think of your topbars--good luck!
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The pedigree of honey
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Natalie
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« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2010, 01:07:50 PM »

Be careful with your back annette, I have had three back surgeries and that is no fun at all.
This is why I am so mindful of what I have for beehives. The 8 frame medium langs and topbar hives are all I can manage without hurting myself, but even after a day of checking langs my back is sore for a while.
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annette
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« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2010, 02:57:30 PM »

I already have all the equipment for the 10 frames so I think I am stuck with it all.
But hopefully I can transition to the TBH over the next few years.
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Beekissed
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« Reply #72 on: March 20, 2010, 08:40:46 AM »

Just doing some thinking here....but I was wondering why a person couldn't just take the Langstroth hive bodies, place them side by side, knock out a wall, put 'em up on legs and lay top bars on them to convert them?  It's probably not ideal but it could make use of the existing equipment.   
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Natalie
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« Reply #73 on: March 20, 2010, 02:00:25 PM »

Its called a long hive, Michael Bush has some pictures of them on his website.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #74 on: March 20, 2010, 09:49:59 PM »

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshorizontalhives.htm
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« Reply #75 on: May 23, 2010, 12:08:02 PM »

I may be repeating what someone else has already stated but I'll put in my 2 cents and if you like it I'll charge you 5 for more!   grin

Top Bar vs Langstroth comes down to one thing in my mind - Honey Production.  I have yet to see a viable business plan for a beekeeping operation focused on honey product which utilizes a Top Bar design.

If your goal is to produce honey for sale or in any significant quantity then you should reconsider your use of Top Bar hives.  If you are not concerned with honey production there are some good reasons why Top Bar hives are a good alternative to traditional designs.  I won't provide a detailed list since others already have.

Feel free to take issue with my assertions but I have not been proven wrong on this yet although I would be very interested in pursuing a more natural method of commercial honey production!
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« Reply #76 on: May 23, 2010, 01:05:23 PM »

Sam, if one were to look at working with bees like being a mechanic, there are some interesting comparisons that can be made.

For example, just as there are different types of mechanics, passenger auto mechanics, diesel mechanics,auto body shops and engine specialties.  Each type of mechanic fixes motor vehicles, yet each has a different focus and somewhat specific end objective.

Also, for each type of mechanic work being done, there are tools and parts that are unique to that work which help accomplish those objectives best.

in working with bees, some are focused on honey production, others on pollinating crops for a fee, others simply for the fun of it and yet others with a conservation and breeding mission.

Each type of working with bees has a different end objective that is not the same as the others and the tools and equipment are there to help meet those specific objectives.

One should not say that one type of working with bees is or should be the measuring stick against which all others be compared or measured.  That's not accurate as the others don't have necessarily the same goals/objectives.  One type of beekeeping is not necessarily better or more important than any other.

Lang style hives have shown themselves to be very effective in honey production, that's good.

TBH's have shown themselves to be good for conservation and hobby purposes. Not to say that one type of hive can't be used for the other purposes, but some folks, like some mechanics learn which tools and parts work best for the purposes they are working toward.

There need not be a competition to say one is ultimately better than the other,  They both have their place for those that choose to use them.

Big Bear
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« Reply #77 on: June 09, 2010, 09:37:06 PM »

VERY well said, BigBear! 
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Jim 134
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« Reply #78 on: June 10, 2010, 06:07:35 AM »

 I would be very interested in pursuing a more natural method of commercial honey production!I have not been proven wrong on this yet although


  What do you call a commercial honey production!  If you have bee and sell honey are you commercial?  one how sell honey from 1 hive or 10,000 hives ?



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134  Smiley
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Paynesgrey
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« Reply #79 on: June 10, 2010, 08:55:20 PM »

Okay, just how much less honey are we talking about with Lang's vs top bars? I know it varies by hive and season, but is there anyone out here who has worked a bunch of both, to make same season comparisons on a number of hives?

We have 8 frame Lang's now, mostly due to me being too small to lift a full 10 frame deeps. a bale of hay, a sack of feed, OR a full 8 box deep are about my limits. And I think it is smarter for 2 to lift a full deep, or move it to an empty covered deep on a wagon. Feed doesn't care if you drop it & neither do you evil  Off topic...

I am very interested in the top hives, for learning more about the bees & observing them, but also because, yep, we can see that the constant replacement of Lang equipment adds up. Just adding new hives costs big, even if you get swarms & do your own splits.  

I have heard estimates ranging from 8 pounds of honey thru 20 pounds of honey energy & time are needed by the bees to produce 1 pound of wax. Would it be accurate, that if you are doing crush and strain, which sounds necessary with top bar, then you would necessarily be costing that much honey production vs pulling supers from a Lang, uncapping, extracting and putting the wet supers right back on?  That would be a con....

Of course the pro would have to be that you would be finding a market for the wax, or making/selling wax based products from that wax. Should be fairly light/good quality wax if it is being used only once (vs left on supers for a few years)?

How much honey and how much wax does one get from each full bar of a top bar hive? If I play with this, I would want to make top bar hives as compatible with Lang frame tops as possible for size.

It sounds like basically, no one has come up with a foundationless frame or top frame holder so that they could be spun in an extractor and returned to the hive? Or would the force just cause whatever grid you used to tear thru the wax?

If that is the case, if we wanted to keep hives to extract from, would long hives with Lang frame & foundation be what we would be looking at? Could we do observation windows on those?
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 09:09:31 PM by Paynesgrey » Logged
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